Olive adds, "The most important components and adjustments to check during a walk-around inspection of a telehandler are the engine and adjustable boom. You want to do a visual check for fluids in the engine, as well as on all the boom components for damage."
Check the engine oil and air filter restriction gauge. "Check oil for obvious reasons," says Lafky. "Restriction dust can clog filters and restrict use or cause a shutdown. It's important to note that a filter should never be removed without a replacement on hand. Cleaning a filter or removing one without replacing it can be disastrous, as even the smallest amount of dirt bypassing an air filter can dust an engine."
Boeckman also recommends checking the tires. "Tires are by far the biggest wear item on a telehandler," he states.
"Tires take a beating in typical telehandler operations, and can sustain a lot of cuts and damage," says Lafky. "They need to be monitored carefully for condition and replaced before they become a problem."
"Tires should be checked for damage, proper inflation and wear," agrees Bartley, adding, "Checking for hydraulic leaks is also crucial as these not only cause an operational issue, but can also become a hazardous spill."
Check for Abuse
"As with any type of construction equipment asset, the most common reasons for telehandler downtime are typically neglect, lack of maintenance or misuse of the machine," says Olive. Telehandlers can be more susceptible to abuse than many other types of equipment.
Operator abuse is not always readily apparent. "Telehandler applications by nature can make it very difficult to spot damage, either from abuse or general use," says Lafky. "For example, a telehandler can be used to traverse steep grades or drive long distances in remote areas with heavy loads, so broken axles and damaged transmissions are not uncommon. It's also a good idea to check for burnt fluids - another common reason for telehandler downtime."
The transmission and axle are expensive components to replace. "So if you are purchasing a used piece of equipment, you want to make some assessment of their condition," says Boeckman. "Take a critical look at both the transmission and the axles. Look for leaks and any significant damage to the outside casing. It is not a bad idea to take a small oil sample out of the transmission and out of the axles to check for oil cleanliness. That will give you some indication of how well that machine has been maintained over its life."
Also look for bent forks and damaged carriages and backrests. "These can result from the telehandler being used as a crane to lift a load above capacity," says Lafky. "We've also seen carriages bent from the operator using the equipment to dig into the ground."
Boom levelers and hydraulic cylinders are particularly prone to damage. "The most costly component on a telehandler to replace is the boom," says Olive. "Internal wear on the boom is not always easy to spot. The easiest way to identify or tell how much life is left in the boom and other components is if the machine has had a current inspection. Monthly maintenance reports are also a good reference point."
The components that need to be replaced give a clue to how a telehandler was used. "The need to replace fork tines, fork tine bars and boom sections is most often associated with misuse and not the natural life span of the component," notes Bartley.
Damage due to abuse is commonly seen on the fork tines, fork tine bars, fork carriage assembly, boom sections and tires. "You can see damage from misapplication when performing an internal boom inspection," adds Bartley. "This inspection is a part of the equipment's regularly scheduled maintenance and involves inspecting inside the boom tubes for chain, sheave and hose damage. This type of damage is usually a result of the operator using the boom to push and pull material instead of lifting material."
Often, costly repairs can be difficult to spot. "Some of the most costly components to replace on a telehandler can be tires, axles and transmissions," says Lafky. "The lifespan on tires is easy to monitor because it's basically a visual check —whereas axles and transmissions often have internal damage that is virtually impossible to detect without fluid sampling or an outright failure."